IP Intensive: An Engineer in Silicon Valley Plus a Law Student at Stanford University Equals a Kid in a Candy Store - A Semester at CodeX

My experience at CodeX at Stanford University was like being a kid in a candy store. After immersing myself in the engineering field for some years and then jumping into the legal field, I desired an opportunity to take a step back and study how law and engineering can intersect. CodeX was such an opportunity. CodeX, the Stanford Centre for Legal Informatics at Stanford University, is where like minded individuals from law, engineering, and computer science work together to advance legal technology.  Some individuals work on shaping policy to accommodate the advancement in technology (e.g., policy for AI and big data) while others work on innovating the legal industry to facilitate legal work (e.g., searching for precedents).

At Codex, you can choose from a smorgasbord of different flavours of legal tech innovations, such as predicting what the judge or jury would decide a case through predictive analysis,  due diligence tools for extracting relevant paragraphs from contracts, chatbots for laypersons to get answers to questions such as, “Can I BBQ on this beach?”, search utility tools, where instead of using keywords or Boolean searches, users may copy and paste an entire paragraph and the algorithm will find precedents and related cases. I am pleased that I had the opportunity to meet with and learn from individuals working on these projects.

Flexibility and encouragement were key in making my placement at CodeX unparalleled experience. In my first few days at CodeX and after meeting with Dr. Roland Vogl, CodeX’s executive director and my placement supervisor, I was assigned a project that revolved around scraping, data collection and analysis – it was an interesting project to say the least.  But while doing my research on my assigned project through CodeX’s many publicly available videos, another project crystallized that was more related to Canada and my interests.  Luckily, it still involved scraping, and data collection and analysis, and Dr. Vogl was very supportive of the new project and offered CodeX’s resources to carry out my project.

The number of available resources made available to me was mind-blowing. CodeX’s mandate is to connect law and technology, it therefore had an extensive network with computer scientists and engineers at Stanford University and other institutions. Whether it was accessing a programming book from the library or finding answers to a technical or law related question, the invaluable connections I made during my placement at CodeX made it possible for me to achieve success.

There was a wide spectrum of events and courses taught by renowned professionals for me to attend, more than time would allow and for my brain to digest.  The array of activities available to me was like being a kid in a candy store, and I gorged myself attending to as many events and classes as I could during my first few weeks at Stanford.  To offer you a taste of some of the events I attended, here are some events that stood out for me: a series called “Artificial Intelligence in Real Life” presented by directors from Netflix, Google, Microsoft, and NASA, organized by the Stanford’s school of engineering, and a talk entitled, “Chief Justice Robot” by Prof. Eugene Volokh of UCLA, and a talk entitled, “One Giant Leap for Machinekind: Generative Adversarial Networks and the Next Age of Tech Regulation” by Prof. Jeff Ward of Duke University.  I have worked on AI in industry and during my graduate studies, nevertheless, my experiences at Stanford have rewired my brain and given me more appreciation on how AI is currently being used in society.

If I were to be given the opportunity again, I would take it in a heartbeat. My goal now is to bring back what I learned to Canada. I give my sincere thanks to IP Osgoode for believing in me and for giving me this great opportunity at CodeX.

 

Written by Wael Louis.  Wael is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and was enrolled in Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law and Technology Intensive Program. As part of the program requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.

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